‘The Hunger Games’ premiere: Everyone loves Jennifer Lawrence
“The World Will Be Watching,” pronounces the tagline for “The Hunger Games,” in reference to the reality-show approach to the killing arena in the story's post-apocalyptic future. But those words were definitely true in the present for the stars of the popular young adult novel’s upcoming adaptation, as talent like Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth walked the black carpet at a world premiere built for a blockbuster.
The event was held outside L.A. Live’s Nokia Theatre, the same place where fans had been screaming for their favorite vampires and werewolves four months earlier at the premiere of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn –- Part 1.” Monday night, in true "Twilight" fashion, the carpet was lined with fans holding aloft homemade posters bearing the names of their favorite stars.
"Jennifer, can I please have a hug?" read one. "Josh, you make my heart go Peeta-Patter," read another.
But though the movie’s stars are quick to call themselves fellow fans of the books, they’re not so eager to side with Team Peeta or Team Gale –- the two men fighting for the heart of lead character Katniss Everdeen, played by Lawrence.
"It’s so hard to choose. I can't choose because I know them both so well," said Dakota Hood, who plays a District 10 tribute. "I want to say Peeta, and I want to say Gale, so I'm just gonna leave you at that."
While some were indecisive like Hood, many claimed alliance with another character entirely.
"I'm definitely Team Katniss," said Jacqueline Emerson, who plays Foxface, a District 5 tribute, “because it's not a love story. It's not a love triangle. It's really just Katniss and her battle and her struggle and what she’ll do for the ones she loves."
As for their opinion of Katniss' real-life counterpart, the film’s large cast of new and experienced talent had continual praise for Lawrence's talent and her humor.
"She is 50% Academy Award [nominated] actress and 50% stand-up comedian," said Dayo Okeniyi, who plays District 11 tribute Thresh. "She had the ability to make anyone feel comfortable around her."
Another young actor in the film, Jack Quaid, son of Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid, shared with reporters a story of Lawrence asking a co-star to "remind me to tell you this great fart joke" a mere second before the cameras started rolling and she went into stoic Katniss mode.
For Paula Malcolmson, who plays Katniss’ mother, developing a mother-daughter relationship with Lawrence was nothing new, as she had done just that briefly for a "Cold Case" episode in 2007. But she continued to be impressed by Lawrence, who received an Oscar nomination last year for "Winter’s Bone." Malcolmson described the 21-year-old actress as “savvy” and “just certain of [her] work.”
The premiere was a massive celebration after many months of build-up via various marketing strategies. It was a fan-flanked event (and full of fan-provided sound effects –- yes, there was a lot of screaming) that went beyond the stars' expectations of scope and size, many of the film's fresh faces said. But even young pros now accustomed to fan mania had to stop and take in the moment, like Miley Cyrus' beau Liam Hemsworth, who plays Gale.
"The fans around this thing are so passionate," the Australian actor said. "I’ve just been trying to keep my head on, realize what’s happening right now .… It's a little crazy. It’s extremely crazy actually."
“The Hunger Games” hits theaters March 23 and also stars Elizabeth Banks, Woody Harrelson, Stanley Tucci, Donald Sutherland and Toby Jones.
–- Emily Rome
Photo: Josh Hutcherson, Jennifer Lawrence and Liam Hemsworth at the world premiere of "The Hunger Games" on Monday in L.A. Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images